One effective way to “preach the gospel” is to be the very best that you can be while on the clock. Notice that I did not say be the best, but the best you can be (you need not compete with anyone other than yourself). This approach has been tried and proven. Others may have greater skills and abilities, but that is not your concern. Your aim must be to give your all -faithfully performing whatever task(s) you are assigned.
Never consider a task too menial, too insignificant. And never consider yourself “above” any task you are called upon to undertake. We follow a Lord who washed feet, a chore reserved for the lowliest of servants.
As a police officer I’ve often had to do what I believed was "below my pay grade.” I remember a night I was dispatched to remove a squirrel from a toilet. At first I was ticked off that I had to do so. My Sergeant came by and I complained to him, and then asked him, “Well, what should I do?” Looking at me puzzled, he snapped back, “Get in there and do just what you were called to do – remove the squirrel!”
A squirrel – another one! - enters a house through the bathroom window. Her husband tells her to call the police to deal with it (wimp) so he can go workout. I get the call!
A woman calls the police to come haul off the dead rat in her kitchen. Guess who got that call? Yours truly. She apologized repeatedly, "Officer Meeks, I’m soooo sorry to call ya’ll…I’m just so afraid of rats…" I did my best to keep my mouth shut, as well as hide the fact that I’ve suffered terribly from “ratphobia” my whole life.
Another Call: Fearful for her life, I’m sent to meet with a lady who, after coming home from shopping, discovers mistletoe hanging on her front door. She was convinced a serial killer had put it there.
Jesus has already set the standard: Nothing is “below” us as believers. We are the “second-milers,” foot washers, ready to bless when cursed. We have freely received, and freely we give – expecting nothing in return. That’s who we are, that’s what we do. We are the few, the proud, the disciples of Jesus.
You should also know that even though you’re at work, the Lord will “test” you. He is committed to the transformation of your character, and often uses the events at work to accomplish that purpose. He does some of his “best” work through the seemingly meaningless activities we often have to do.
Let me tell you the whole story about the woman and the mistletoe. When I got the call it immediately angered me. What a stupid call, I thought. Don’t people have anything better to do than call the police on such trivial matters? I was just cruising along in my patrol car before this call came out, munching on a donut and sipping hot coffee, listening to Christian radio, praising and worshiping God. I was having such a good day, being so holy and nice - and now this!
In this frame of mind I knocked on her door.
I stood there listening to her. "Officer, I’m new to this area. I don’t know anybody. Who would do this?"
My body language made it clear that I wasn’t too interested in her crisis, that she was blowing this whole thing out of proportion.
"So, ma’am, what do you want me to do?"
Hurt as well as angry over my response and posture, she made her request: "Officer, I just want you to act like you care!"
She had me.
"You’re right ma’am. I don’t care... But I’m wrong. Please forgive me. Would it be okay if we started over?"
I walked over to the front door and reentered. "Hello. I’m Officer Meeks. What can I do for you today?"
Her anger subsided. She told her story again, and I listened.
I didn’t do too well on this “test,” at least not initially. I failed to see that this seemingly insignificant call was an assignment from God, an opportunity for ministry. What the Lord was wanting me to do was treat this dear lady, who lived alone surrounded by strangers, as if she were Christ Jesus himself. The result of my test would reveal whether or not I would do what I knew I was suppose to do, or do what I actually ended up doing - making a terrible impression.
Did you know there's a Policeman's Bible? It can be ordered from Amazon or your local Christian bookstore. Articles by cops are in the back, including one that I (Jimmy) wrote.
I remember a July afternoon several years ago, the temperature over 100 degrees. I was working the day shift, and it was time to call it a day. I was having “visions” of a large glass of tea, the size of a water tower. I could feel the cool air in my living room, calling me home.
In a matter of minutes I would be stretched out on my couch, cold air rushing on my face, and a gigantic glass of tea in my hands. In addition, I’d be able to shed an immediate 20 pounds or so – the uniform.
I drove up on the freeway and headed to the police department. It was almost 3:00 – quitting time. I took the exit that leads right to the parking lot. I was glad this day was over.
And then I saw her.
Standing next to her car, which appeared to be broken down, was a middle-aged woman. Oh no, I thought, what’s wrong with her?
I immediately was overcome with fear - fearful of the possibility of having to get out of my car! I pulled up beside her, and placing one foot on the roadway while keeping the other one in the car, I stepped out of my patrol unit (FYI; When a cop pulls up beside you, and not behind you, when he keeps one foot in the car, and the other out, he’s indicating that he’s in a hurry and would prefer to not stay too long, especially when it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement).
"What’s wrong, ma’am?"
I’ve got a flat tire.
Uh, I sighed, my lungs almost deflating.
She had that “married look” about her, so I asked, “Can you get your husband out here to fix it?”
He’s over in Dallas (20 plus miles away).
Uh, I sighed again. I began to tremble at the thought that I might have to actually get out of my car - with both feet – and under the rays of the blazing sun, change a flat tire.
It was then that I heard “the voice.”
"SON, YOU CAN CHANGE THAT TIRE."
I recognized it is as the voice of the Lord, though I inwardly hoped it was just my own thinking.
“Lord," I reasoned, "you could turn down the thermostat up there and cool us all off…”
I had no desire whatsoever to change that tire. None. It was then that the voice spoke again:
You could change that tire…for ME.
All of a sudden I was filled with an inexpressible joy. Another thought came to me: How often do you get to change a flat tire…for the Son of God Himself?
Overcome with excitement, I backed up my car, pulled in behind her, and went to work. As I sat on the ground, I was so overcome with joy I started crying. The lady saw my tears and asked me if I was okay (she probably thought I was so upset about changing the tire that it drove me to tears!).
But the real reason for my tears was that I had been given the honor, the privilege, to perform a special task for the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
I was not changing the tire for the lady, nor was I doing it because it’s what a good cop would do. I didn’t see myself as performing a public service. No, I was sitting there in the presence of Jesus, changing a flat tire on His car. I will always remember this occasion as one of the most “special times” I ever experienced as a cop.
More Jesus-Style Policing
A few years back, on another hot day, I was dispatched to the scene of an accident. When you work as a cop in the DFW metropolis, it’s not uncommon to be sent to a call that is actually in another jurisdiction. Such was the case in this accident. When I arrived, I quickly noticed that the accident had occurred in Ft. Worth.
I was relieved, for the day was hot, and now I could sit in the comfort of my air-conditioned car and wait for the Ft. Worth officer to arrive.
As I kicked back and turned up the AC the Lord spoke to me. Son, why don’t you do the paperwork so that when the Ft. Worth officer arrives, he won’t have as much to do. You’ll be serving him.
Yeah, I thought. I’m always talking about serving others and looking for ministry opportunities. And here’s one right now.
I jumped out of the car and took over. By the time the Ft. Worth officer got there, I had completed the necessary paperwork. When I presented it to him, he couldn’t believe it. He even seemed puzzled. I explained to him that I knew he was probably backed up in his call log, and that by doing the paper, he might be able to catch up on any unfinished business, or at least not get any further behind. I could tell he was genuinely touched. He thanked me and I went on my way.
I now realized that a whole new “ministry” had opened for me. I would be more creative in my approach to ministry opportunities. I would cease to look for only the “big” opportunities, and take advantage of the “smaller” ones – like giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.
From that time on, I seized as many opportunities as I could, especially when I was sent to accidents in other cities. Before the other officer would arrive, I would hurriedly do the paperwork. When he, or she, got there, business was almost done. They were always appreciative, though puzzled. Cops have a hard time receiving – and we’re always suspicious, even of someone’s good intent.
On yet another occasion, when dispatched to an accident outside my jurisdiction, I delved into the paperwork, finishing it before the officer arrived. When he got there, I gave it to him. His reply caught me off guard: “You’re Jimmy Meeks, aren’t you?”
Yes, I said, puzzled by his remark.
“I heard about you! One of my fellow officers told me that if you get to an accident, and ‘that Meeks guy’ was there, he would already have it done!”
So, fellow Christian officer, as you hit the streets today, remember to do what you do as unto the Lord, and not as unto men: It is the Lord Jesus whom you serve. And never forget that as a disciple of Jesus, you are a follower of a “foot-washer.”